The Name of This Book Is Secret Book Poster Image

The Name of This Book Is Secret



Mild mystery tries too hard to be Lemony Snicket.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Children are not honest with their parents and guardians.


A reference to a story about a monk who cut off his own eyelids. Some people may have been killed in a fire.

Not applicable

One use of "dammit."


One disparaging reference to McDonald's.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there is little to be concerned about here: one mild expletive, some indirectly referenced violence, and children sneaking out on adventures.

What's the story?

Cass carries around a backpack with survival gear, supposedly because her father was killed by lightning, except he wasn't, so it's not really an excuse. Max-Ernest is an incessant chatterbox, which lands him in therapy and social pariah-hood. They team up to look into a mysterious coded message left in the belongings of an elderly magician who apparently died in a fire.

What they find is a group of mysterious immortals who kidnap children with synesthesia, for reasons that never become completely clear, but are apparently connected to their method of prolonging life. When a boy from their school is kidnapped, they decide to try to rescue him.

Is it any good?


The fun part is the mystery: Children with a taste for this kind of thing will enjoy the clues and codes, and will wish for more of them. Some will be immediately obvious to many kids, while others are more clever, but this part of the story is a fairly humorous romp. The dreary part is the author's voice: Apparently trying to take a leaf from Lemony Snicket's books, he gives incessant warnings about how dangerous it is to read the book; this, combined with the utter lack of anything that justifies the build-up, comes across as lame at best and annoying at worst.

The sum of these parts, along with some plot holes and lapses in logic, make for a book that is modestly entertaining at times and irritating at others. But given the dearth of books in this particular genre of lighthearted mysteries involving codes and a touch of the supernatural, kids who loved Lemony Snicket's or Blue Balliett's books will want to read this too.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the various types of secret codes used in the book, including keyword codes and anagrams -- and maybe play around with some secret codes for a little family fun. Which types of secret code appeal to you most? Can you make up a secret code?

Book details

Author:Pseudonymous Bosch
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:October 1, 2007
Number of pages:360
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12

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Parent of a 8 year old Written byLipstick6 May 10, 2011

I wouldn't recommend this for any age group.

Awful book. Besides being unoriginal and boring, starting on page 50, there is a blatant message encouraging children to lie to their parents, saying that its okay if you think your parents wont approve of what you are doing or where you are going. I read every book before my son does, and this one and any of the other ones written by this particular author is being banned in our household. I'm not an overly strict parent, but any author who sits there and has the audacity to expose my child to poor language, dishonest actions, and lifestyle choices that are contrary to our beliefs is not welcome in my house.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Parent of a 8 and 10 year old Written byJojano April 1, 2011

A great "suspenseful" book that isn't too scary

My son (10 yrs) just finished reading this whole series. I think he liked it better than Lemony Snicket which is so dark. I read the first few books of The Secret series just to make sure that it is appropriate. I thought it was fine for my 10 year old, not as dark at The Unfortunate Events Series. The main female character does lie to her parents and sneak around a bit, but it's all "to save the world" which is exactly what she and her new friend are trying to do. I would not recommend this book for kids younger than 9. My 8 year old daughter would not do well with the suspenseful content of this book. It is great however for my son that is ready for something a little scarier and suspenseful.
Teen, 13 years old Written byHP10geance March 16, 2011
I LOVE THIS BOOK ! It has good vocabulary and the writer made this book really interesting to read! I can't stop reading after i started ! It even has codes to break ! Totally AWESOME ! It is so BRAVE of Cass and Max-Ernest to save Benjamin. :D
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models